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Flexible trainees in surgery ‘often working 40 hours’

By Mindo - 31st Oct 2019

Pictured is Mr. Joe Butler, Consultant Spine Surgeon at the Mater Private Hospital Dublin with spine surgery robot, Excelsius GPS(TM).The Mater Private Hospital is the first facility in Ireland to offer robot-assisted spine surgery, and one of just four centres in Europe using the highly advanced ExcelsiusGPS(TM) robot.

Surgical trainees undertaking flexible training are “often working” 40 hours per week, yet this additional time is “not recognised” towards training, the Medical Independent (MI) can report. A meeting between officials from the HSE and RCSI, the minutes of which were obtained by MI under Freedom of Information law, heard that this creates “a huge disincentive” to entering flexible working arrangements.

According to remarks attributed to Dr Christine Kiernan, National Fellow for Innovation and Change, National Doctors Training and Planning (NDTP), flexible trainees in surgery were “often working 40 hours, yet this additional time is not recognised towards training and is a huge disincentive to trainees to go for flexible working arrangements”, according to minutes of the meeting held earlier this year.

A HSE spokesperson told MI Dr Kiernan was at the meeting “to provide an NCHD perspective and she expressed a personal opinion”.

According to an RCSI spokesperson: “We currently have three trainees on the NDTP flexible training scheme.

“Flexible training can refer to a range of options whereby trainees can access less than full-time training or in some instances, training in geographical locations more suited to their personal circumstances while continuing to attain the required competencies and range of experience.”

The spokesperson said the RCSI was “acutely aware” of the importance of providing flexible working arrangements for trainees.

“Outside of the HSE flexible training scheme, RCSI trainees can make requests for flexible training to the training programme directors and these requests are facilitated to the best of our ability. Additionally, we have developed and implemented policies on job sharing and post reassignment to support trainees’ flexible training request.”

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